Saving lives everyday

The St Vincent de Paul Society of Australia is working to shape a more just and compassionate society. We do this by standing in solidarity with people who are living in poverty and experiencing disadvantage.

Just prior to the 2017-2018 Budget, John Falzon CEO of Vinnies National Council and Cassandra Goldie CEO of ACOSS conducted this interview on the urgent need to increase the Newstart Allowance with radio 2GB.

What Vinnies does

  • Unemployment and underemployment

We believe that empowering people, not blaming them, is the answer to combating the poverty that affects one in eight Australians. Vinnies assists people who are unemployed or underemployed by conducting home visits, and providing company and assistance with food and utility bills. But it saddens us to see people living on the Newstart Allowance forced into poverty rather than helped back in to the workforce. 

There are around 1.5 million unemployed and underemployed people competing for 150,000 job vacancies. Neither Work-for-the-Dole nor absurd levels of compliance and cruelty will address labour market conditions, especially in geographic areas of high unemployment.  

Vinnies calls on the Government to implement a Jobs Plan to cut poverty, and address the structural drivers of unemployment and improve the pathways to employment through training.   A Jobs Plan that includes an immediate increase in the Newstart Allowance payment by a minimum of $50 a week and the appropriate indexation of payment rates would help people into work rather than forcing them to live in poverty. Read our submissions to government inquiries on the Extent of Income Inequality in Australia and on the Review of Australia’s Welfare System.  In response to welfare recipients losing up to $8.80 a week a fortnight, owing to a 2016 budget decision to remove a supplement originally introduced in 2013 as carbon tax compensation for people on the Newstart allowance, pensions and family payments, we issued this media statement on 22 August 2016.

  • Cost of Living

Recognising people’s need to be heard is critical to the success of the St Vincent de Paul Society in Australia. We pride ourselves on providing a hand up, not a hand out. This involves really listening to the people who have been pushed to the margins of our society and who are struggling with the rising cost of living. Again, Vinnies provides emergency relief in the short term and financial counselling for people, but we maintain the problems lies in greater structural issues such as changes in the energy market and the way of the cost of living is measured. Vinnies has campaigned for the Cost of Living Index to be measured against the Relative Price Index opposed to the Consumer Price Index, which we believe is not an accurate representation of inflation. Cost of living pressures would also be eased if access to public housing was increased, the issue of housing affordability addressed and the Rent Assistance payment increased to enable people to remain in the private rental market.

Find out more about Vinnies research work into energy prices and relative price index.

  • Related issues

Pay day lending: Vinnies has campaigned for reforms to the pay day lending sector that would protect the most financially vulnerable in our society from onerous debt repayment requirements. Exploitative business practices can in many instances send financially vulnerable people into a perilous debt spiral from which they never recover.

Get Involved

  • Read Paul's story of surviving poverty or these personal accounts of people experiencing severe cost of living pressures.
  • Donate or volunteer your time at a Vinnies shop or donate funds to our accommodation and support services around Australia. 

Learn more